Relaxation, Magnetic

Relaxation, Magnetic


a stage of relaxation. In magnetic relaxation, the system of spin magnetic moments of the atoms and molecules of a medium takes part in the process by which the medium achieves thermodynamic equilibrium. In many cases, the interaction between the spins (between the magnetic moment of the spins) is much stronger than the other interactions in which the spins participate, such as the interaction of the spins with the phonons of a crystal. Equilibrium is thus often reached more rapidly in the spin system than in the medium as a whole—that is, than for the other internal degrees of freedom. Magnetic relaxation therefore proceeds in stages. The last and longest stage generally corresponds to the achievement of equilibrium between the spins and other degrees of freedom—for example, between the spin system and phonons, which are the quanta of vibrations of the crystal lattice. Each stage of magnetic relaxation is described by its own relaxation time, for example, spin-spin and spin-lattice relaxation times are used with crystals.

In media that have a magnetic structure—ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic materials—magnetic relaxation occurs through the collision of spin waves (magnons) with each other and also with phonons, dislocations, impurity atoms, and other crystal defects.

In solids, magnetic relaxation depends essentially on the structure of the solid. Determining factors here include the character of the crystal lattice (single crystal or polycrystal), the presence of impurities and dislocations, and the domain structure. A decrease in the number of crystal defects and in the crystal temperature generally results in an increase in the magnetic relaxation time.

The magnetic relaxation of nuclear spins (nuclear magnetic moments) has its own specific characteristics, which are due to the especially weak interaction of the nuclear spins with the other degrees of freedom of the medium.

Magnetic relaxation plays a role in the processes of magnetization and alternating magnetization (seeMAGNETIC VISCOSITY) and determines the width of nuclear magnetic resonance lines, electron paramagnetic resonance lines, ferromagnetic resonance lines, and antiferromagnetic resonance lines. The properties of ferromagnetic and antiferromagnetic materials in high-frequency electromagnetic fields depend substantially on magnetic relaxation. In many cases, magnetic relaxation sets limits to the use of materials. For example, it imposes restrictions on the conditions governing the use of magnetic thin films in technology and on the speed of magnetic elements in electronic computer storage devices. Magnetic relaxation times are among the parameters of a solid that are altered comparatively readily by industrial processes, such as alloying and hardening.